The Church Residence / Michiru Higginbotham

Architects: Michiru Higginbotham
Area: 700 m²
Year: 2022
Photography: Katherine Lu
Manufacturers: Brodware, Elton Group, Gineico Lighting, Living Tiles, Ownworld, STS Stone, Woodos
Builders: Straight Up Built
Landscape Architects: Andrew Pearce Landscape Design
Interior Architects: Michiru Cohen, Adam Higginbotham
Base Building Architect: Arc Architects
Heritage Architects: Heritage Solutions
Stylists: Holly Irvine Studio
City: Sydney
Country: Australia

The Church in Sydney, a former community church and theatre, has undergone a significant transformation into a contemporary three-level dwelling, masterfully blending modern design with its historic sandstone and brick facade. This adaptive reuse project respects the building’s heritage while incorporating modern aesthetics and functionality, creating vibrant living spaces without compromising the structure’s original charm. The interior boasts minimal partitions and floating mezzanine levels, with large glazed arches enhancing natural light and views. Key living areas, like the centrally placed kitchen, anchor the design, paying homage to the building’s ecclesiastical past.

The church residence / michiru higginbotham

In 2022, a transformative architectural project was undertaken by Michiru Higginbotham, turning an old community church and theatre in Sydney into a contemporary three-level residence. This project, now known as The Church, retains the historical charm of its heritage-listed brick and sandstone façade while integrating a modern interior that respects the original structure’s integrity. The design uses a mix of new geometries, materials, and lighting to achieve a balance between traditional and contemporary aesthetics, making the building a noteworthy example of sensitive architectural intervention.

The Church occupies the original footprint of the building, offering a spacious interior that combines minimal partitions and floating mezzanine levels with modified glazing to create a bright and airy atmosphere. Large glazed arches mirror the traditional fenestration, enhancing the interior with views of the surrounding garden and harbor. This element not only preserves the rhythm of the exposed roof structure but also maintains the presence of historical architectural features like brickwork buttresses and timber trusses.

At the heart of this renewed space is the kitchen, designed as the focal point of the home, much like an altar in a church. This central island, with its soaring height and material consistency, echoes the arches of the original windows and establishes a visual linkage to the historical elements of the building. The transformation from a public assembly space to a private residence included strategic modifications to the layout to support both social and private functions, facilitating a seamless blend of domestic life within a historically significant framework.

Through a careful balance of built-in joinery and select furniture, the design supports a functional and aesthetically pleasing living environment. The Church exemplifies the successful fusion of historic preservation with modern living, creating a unique dwelling that respects its past while looking forward to the future.

The church residence / michiru higginbotham
Project Gallery
Project Location

Address: Sydney NSW, Australia

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